Henry B. Motty


Within weeks of the Americans declaring independence in July of 1776, diplomatic exchanges between Philadelphia and Madrid yielded essential cooperation as Spain secretly rendered supplies to the revolutionaries via New Orleans. By 1778, France and the United States became allies with hopes of luring Spain to officially join the conflict. That same year, Spanish emissary Juan de Miralles arrived in Philadelphia where many Americans welcomed him, noting his "pleasant disposition, social grace, and ability to make friends." In a letter to George Washington, Miralles assured the general that Spanish officials in Havana received orders to "communicate them to the Honourable Continental Congress and Solicite with the greatest eagerness it's execution" and convey the King's wishes for "the Universal good of the Thirteen United States." Miralles partnered with an American merchant to ship trade items to Cuba and, though he lacked official credentials, carried out many diplomatic duties for Spain. He was even invited to the Patriot camp at Morristown, New Jersey, by Washington himself. Miralles's words and actions displayed good will between the U.S. and Spain, but the diplomatic relationship that developed between the two nations proved more complex.

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